As usual, below are the scripture readings which I draw on in my homily. I have also included the full text of St Thomas Aquinas’ hymn ‘Pange Lingua’ which he wrote for this solemnity.
Moses went and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. In answer, all the people said with one voice, ‘We will observe all the commands that the Lord has decreed.’ Moses put all the commands of the Lord into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed certain young Israelites to offer holocausts and to immolate bullocks to the Lord as communion sacrifices. Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’
Now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than the one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives; how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God.
He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.
Hail our Saviour’s glorious Body, which his Virgin Mother bore;
hail the Blood which, shed for sinners, did a broken world restore;
hail the sacrament most holy
flesh and Blood of Christ adore!
To the Virgin for our healing,
his own Son the Father send; from the Father’s love proceeding sower, seed, and Word descends; wondrous life of Word incarnate with his greatest winder ends!
On that paschal evening see him with the chosen twelve recline, to the old law still obedient
in its feats of love divine;
love divine, the new law giving, gives himself as Bread and Wine!
By his word the Word almighty makes of bread his flesh indeed; wine becomes his very life-blood; faith God’s living Word must heed! Faith alone may safely guide us where the senses cannot lead!
Come, adore this wondrous presence; bow to Christ, the source of grace!
Here is kept the ancient promise
of God’s earthly dwelling-place!
Sight is blind before God’s glory, faith alone may see his face!
Glory be to God the Father, praise to his co-equal Son, adoration to the Spirit,
bond of love, in Godhead one! Blest be God by all creation joyously while ages run!